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Sci-Tech

Deadly animal machine rises again at Rome's Colosseum

Technically Incorrect: As part of a documentary, a timber cage that once lifted animals into the arena to fight has been rebuilt by archaeologists and engineers. It'll be there the next time you visit.

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This wolf is wondering what's going on. Telegraph screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

In Roman times, they didn't have video games.

So they had to settle for watching humans and animals being killed in real life.

One entertainment at Rome's beautiful Colosseum was to carry animals up to the arena in an elevator, while the poor beasts shook with terror.

Now, as part of a documentary, someone's gone and re-created a wooden cage like one into which animals were shoved and then elevated. A wolf, who didn't look too happy, was placed inside.

However, instead of being required to fight a bear or Russell Crowe, the wolf was awarded with a doggie biscuit when it entered the arena.

Gary Glassman, director of the documentary entitled "Colosseum: Roman Death Trap," told the Telegraph: "I would love to have used a lion, but there were obvious safety issues involved. In the end we chose a wolf because it is the symbol of Rome."

I can imagine some would have objected to shoving a rhinoceros in there too.

Still, the elevator, built from genuine Roman timber, can hold around 660 pounds of beast. It rises 24 feet on a system of pulleys. When it reaches the top, the trap door opens and the animal is thrust onto the field of battle.

The structure had to be crane-lifted into the Colosseum. It will now become a permanent reminder of what the supposedly cultured can sometimes do with their time (and I don't mean reconstruct elevators).

The finished product was unveiled Friday, and the archaeologists and engineers who built it pushed the capstan round and round to hoist the cage and show how it worked.

Perhaps this new element to the Colosseum will encourage at least some visitors to ponder humanity's essential twistedness, as opposed to, say, carving their initials into the Colosseum's walls in order to take a more original selfie.

It's possible, I suppose.